DATAROCK’s Fredrik Saroea Teams Up With BIT20 For Bittersweet “Heaven Knows Those Songs Weren’t Heaven Sent”

“… here [Fredrik Saroea] is all classed up, laying down some serious nylon string guitar work with the BIT20 Ensemble.” – Brooklyn Vegan

“Supported by BIT20’s sensuous strings, Saroea gets up close and personal with ‘Bulletproof Vest’ – a heartfelt intimate number that belies its name.” – The Big Takeover

“The arrangement by Bjørn Morten Christophersen is nothing short of gorgeous.  The lyrics penetrate with Saroea’s vocals aiming straight at your heart.  The song has an aching beauty to it.” – Riff Magazine

“Similarly, the live album will dazzle anyone who listens to it.  Not only is the sound in Grieg Hall extraordinary but Saroea’s voice and BIT20’s string quartet also bring an exceptional touch to each performance.” – Soundigest

“When it comes to his craft as an artist and songwriter, there is no one as capable and high-minded as Fredrik Saroea.” – V13


Premieres on BlackBook

Rona Diaries: The Chamber Versions Live at Grieg Hall, Bergen Set for Release on June 10, 2022 via YAP Records

Pre-Save: Here

APRIL 19, 2022 (NORWAY) – “This is the last song on my Rona Diaries solo album, and I guess it’s basically me pardoning the fact that I let myself write, record and release such a sad and depressing collection of lockdown songs that the listener just endured to the… bitter end, so to speak,” says Fredrik Saroea about his new single “Heaven Knows Those Songs Weren’t Heaven Sent” that premiered on BlackBook.  Best known as the frontman of the critically acclaimed global disco punk outfit DATAROCK, the Norwegian multi-genre artist re-envisioned his recent solo album Rona Diaries (2021) as a live piece with award-winning string quartet BIT20 Ensemble, merging his contemplative indie rock with the exquisite air of a chamber orchestra. 

Fredrik Saroea with BIT20 Ensemble - Heaven Knows Those Songs Weren't Heaven Sent (Chamber Version)
Fredrik Saroea with BIT20 Ensemble “Heaven Knows Those Songs Weren’t Heaven Sent”

Saroea says “Musically I suppose the original version – with just me and my guitar – was somewhat inspired by everything from Mark Kozelek’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer’ or ‘What’s Next to the Moon’ to Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’ or Elliott Smith’s ‘Needle in the Hay’ – but I guess even very different formative artists are partly to blame for this newly revealed side of my songwriting too; like Flying Saucer Attack’s ‘Land Beyond the Sun’ for instance, or The Smiths’ absolute classics like ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’, ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ or ‘Asleep.”   Rona Diaries: The Chamber Versions Live at Grieg Hall, Bergen is set for release on June 10, 2022 via YAP Records.

Fredrik Saroea with BIT20 Ensemble @ Bergen International Festival 
Photo credit: Thor Brødreskift

Combining his passion for indie rock with sweeping pastoral soundscapes, Saroea and BIT20’s string quartet (Martin Shultz on violin, Liene Klava on viola, Agnese Rugevica on cello, Johannes Wik on harp with arrangements by Bjørn Morten Christophersen), will be releasing “Heaven Knows Those Songs Weren’t Heaven Sent” today Tuesday, April 19, 2022.  BlackBook says “the chamber music version of the track comes off sonically and emotionally like a hauntingly beautiful requiem for all those who were taken from us by the virus, and also a musical memento for all of us who survived it. One imagines that when enough time has passed to collect the ‘coronavirus songbook’ – all those compositions whose existence will be ultimately credited to what will have been the greatest health crisis of a generation (or two or three) – this poignantly affective live recording of ‘Heaven Knows Those Songs Weren’t Heaven Sent’ will have a particular pride of place amongst them.”

Recorded at the infamous Grieg Hall during Norway’s 69th annual Bergen International Festival (which took place on May 28, 2021), “Heaven Knows Those Songs Weren’t Heaven Sent” along with prior singles, “A Matter of Dying,” “Bulletproof Vest,” “Bergheim” and “Understatement Lovesong” as well as all the other tracks from Rona Diaries were premiered to an unsuspecting public who were more familiar with his former band’s rhythmic brand of dance music.  

Photo credit: Tove Lise Mossestad

“The chamber version of ‘Heaven Knows Those Songs Weren’t Heaven Sent’ took a very different direction – heaven sent by orchestrator Bjørn Morten Christophersen and the amazing quartet from the BIT20 Ensemble,” says Saroea to BlackBook. “Now the song is so much more than an excuse, and you can almost hear that I don’t mean it anymore when I sing that last sentence ‘heaven knows those songs weren’t heaven sent’, so I guess the ‘cathartic masochism’ wasn’t such a terrible idea after all.”   

As COVID-19 shut down live music in 2020, Saroea started recording solo material that became his first solo album Rona Diaries at YAP Records’ studio in Bergen, Norway with the help of DATAROCK drummer Øyvind Solheim engineering, mixing and co-producing. The 12 songs were then mastered by UK’s GRAMMY®-nominated Mike Marsh (Björk, Massive Attack, Basement Jaxx, Depeche Mode) and released May 28, 2021. 

Rona Diaries: The Chamber Versions Live At The Grieg HallBergen includes chamber versions of the Rona Diaries tracks plus two bonus DATAROCK tracks.  It was mixed in Los Angeles by the two-time GRAMMY® winner Mark Rankin (Adele, Weezer, Florence and the Machine, Harry Styles) and mastered by Mike Marsh in the UK.  The album artwork was created by renowned artist Magnus Voll Mathiassen who worked on Rihanna’s Unapologetic and 2021’s Oscars.

1. I’m a Rock
2. Battered & Bruised
3. Bulletproof Vest
4. The End
5. A Matter of Dying
6. Bergheim 
7. Understatement Love Song 
8. Stray Cats
9. Dragging You Down
10. The Family You Got to Choose
11. Feather in the Cap
12 Heaven Knows Those Songs Weren’t Heaven Sent
13. Catcher in the Rye (Bonus)
14. Laugh in the Face of Darkness (Bonus)

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